Why Isn’t My Book Selling?!?

Authors are prone to what I like to call Extra Special Writer Freak Outs.

It’s understandable. People have only been LYING to us all of our lives. (Trust me, I’m a fairytale writer, I know all about carefully crafted falsehoods.) The problem is that few successful authors take the time to debunk the myths about book publishing.

So my darlings, that’s where I come in. I’m a second-time author and a full-time educator and it will be MY pleasure to share the Dirty Dark Secrets of the publishing process with you. The following is for a) newbie authors, or b) those who are completely delusional about the publishing process, like I was.

Dirty Dark Secret 1: Success is a direct result of hard work. Gone are the days when publishing ONE book resulted in instant popularity and millions of dollars. (Okay, unless you’re really, really lucky.) Most writers only become successful after they have produced and released a number of books. Much like childbirth, birthing your novel is just the beginning of the process.

Quite simply, if you’re not doing anything your novel probably isn’t either.

Dirty Dark Secret 2: Most of the marketing and promotion will fall to you. We’ve all heard of elaborate book tours and publishing houses using their immense influence to promote books. But big publishing houses are highly selective in the books they accept for publication. And if current trends continue, even traditionally published authors will be responsible for the lion’s share of marketing, sales, and book promotion.

If tackling marketing and promotion seems daunting, just remember than indie authors do all it the time. You will survive!

Dirty Dark Secret 3: The learning curve is pretty steep. Marketing isn’t easy. Add sales and book promotion to that and you may be ready to hug your laptop to your chest while rocking and crying at the same time. But no one’s book deserves to sit in the dark. (Okay, some people’s books deserve to sit in the dark. Possibly forever.) If you can afford it, there are people out there who will handle marketing and promotion for you. But if you’re like me, your marketing budget is pretty slim. However, if you’re brave enough (and/or stubborn enough) to educate yourself, you can conquer anything.

Whether you have lots, little, or no experience, there are plenty of resources out there to help you. Put those big brains to work!

Dirty Dark Secret 4: Connection is key. Most writers tend to be introverts. News flash, that won’t fly if you want people to know about your books. Pull up your big girl/boy pants, put on your best smile, and prep that book blurb, baby! Then kindly and respectfully connect with bloggers, readers, reviewers, shopkeepers, and librarians both online and in person.

Building a support group will take time. Be genuine and be prepared to swap favors.

The Dirty Dark Secrets revealed above may come as a blow to anyone who has big dreams of publishing. Especially if you have no solid plans to back them up.

This is the moment when I should tell you something inspirational, like:

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

—Eleanor Roosevelt

But I’m not going to do that. Because if dreaming what you want, you’d better go back to bed and let the rest of us get on with it.

Instead of reciting pleasant platitudes, I’m going to remind you of the following:

You are a WRITER. You make up entire worlds and paint them so vividly that others can live in them as well. And you’ll do it over and over and over again until your mind or your body grows too weak to continue. Don’t be afraid of hard work. There are as many amazing vistas before you as there are behind you.

And hey, I don’t know about you, but I’m in this for the long haul. If I can do it, you can too.

About the author:

Sarah E. Boucher is a lover of fairy stories, romance, anything BBC and Marvel, and really, really cute shoes. On weekdays she wears respectable shoes and serves as Miss B., the Queen of Kindergarten. On school holidays she writes stories about romance and adventure. And wears impractical super cute shoes.

Sarah is a graduate of Brigham Young University. She lives and works in northern Utah. Her novels include Becoming Beauty and Midnight Sisters. Visit Sarah at SarahEBoucher.com or connect with her on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.







Sarah_BoucherTime to chat with Sarah!

Sarah E. Boucher spends her days instilling young children with the same
love of literature she has known since childhood. After hours, she pens
her own stories and nurses an unhealthy obsession for handbags, high
heels, and British television. Sarah is a graduate of Brigham Young
University. She lives and teaches in Ogden, Utah. Becoming Beauty is her
first novel.

What is your latest book?

My latest book is Becoming Beauty, a Young Adult twist on Beauty and the Beast. With serious entitlement issues and an inability to recognize true beauty, Bella is sometimes more of a Beast than a Beauty. Her plans to snag a wealthy gentleman and her own household are curtailed when she’s forced to become the Beast’s servant. Though her new position is humiliating, Bella begins to glimpse the man beneath the monster.

Is your recent book part of a series?

Becoming Beauty is part of a loosely connected fairytale series. It happened as a part of what I like to call a happy accident. I started writing the second book in the series, a twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses while Becoming Beauty was in preproduction. As an inside joke (I love those), I added Jonas, the main character from the second book, into the finale of Becoming Beauty. Then, as I played around with the idea for a third book, I thought, “Why not put them all in the same area?” The first two are already based around the same forest, so why not?


How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I have been unabashedly obsessed with fairytales since I was old enough to hold books. There’s something magical about the words “Once Upon a Time” and “Happily Ever After.” I played around with other genres but when I started my version of Beauty and the Beast, it felt like I’d come home. As soon as I plunged into fairyland, my mind came alive with plans for upcoming books. At the end of the day, I blame my mom who kept great books around and my dad who taught me to love reading.

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

I submitted Book Two, my twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses to my publisher! I chose the supremely awesome moment right before my carpal tunnel surgery to hit the fateful submit button. Now I’m playing the waiting game. Hopefully they see enough potential in it to accept it. Fingers crossed!

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

My characters tend to be slightly obnoxious, snarky, and teasy. Also, I’m a fly-by-my-pants writer. A very loose outline and away I go! So, yes, I tend to be surprised by my characters. I learn about myself, life, and love as they interact with one another. It’s a process I really enjoy. I hope the audience sees something of themselves and their life in my stories as well.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

There’s always a specific scene that I visualize clearly before I start writing anything. I use that as a springboard for the story, whether I write it at the beginning or just hint at it. Other than that, I write everything in order. When the juices really start flowing and I don’t feel a scene, sometimes I’ll sketch it out and jump to the next one. Also, I leave myself notes when things don’t quite work and fix them when I’ve let my mind relax a bit.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

So far I haven’t known how one of my books would end at the beginning. Little twists, turns, and interesting flips occur to me along the way and change the ending. I really enjoy the surprising aspect of writing. Likewise, none of my books had their titles at the beginning. Titles usually come to me mid-project or after I’ve finished writing. And no, it doesn’t bother me in the least!

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

Generally, I’m an edit-as-I-go gal. I try not to get bogged down in the editing mire before the story wraps up, but I find that making small tweaks along the way helps me to keep the momentum going. However, heavy-duty editing is saved for the end of the project when I have the whole project before me.

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

I think many (if not all) of us reach the “Writer Suck Fest” when everything you write begins to sound like crap. When I arrive at that point, I know that it’s time to switch gears and either a) shelf the project and work on something else (another writing, creative, or work project) or b) pass the book on to someone else, whether it be beta readers, a trusted author friend, or an editor. We lose perspective for several reasons and withdrawing from the project helps me see it with clear eyes.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

I think I’m a pretty tough critic. I’d never finish a one-star book, much less review one. (And yes, the one-star review has happened to me.) I’ll never understand the rationale behind leaving a completely negative review, but I keep in mind that my book isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and not everyone will connect with my characters. I also remind myself that whenever you introduce people to something new, they may love it, they may hate it, or it may leave them cold because everyone is entitled to their opinion and they’re allowed to express it as loudly as they’d like. Lastly, I remember that just because someone doesn’t love my book, it doesn’t reflect badly on me. (And at least in my experience, when you pour all your best into what you do there are few people who truly hate it.)

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

I think a lot of professionalism can be conveyed in a cover. But there have been books with beautiful covers that have completely let me down. Generally, I’m picky. If it doesn’t have a compelling cover, I probably won’t give it a second glance. That said, I’m very pleased with the cover of Becoming Beauty and hope that subsequent books have equally lovely covers.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Yes, please! Trains are lovely and car rides are great if we’re going somewhere cool and there’s something interesting to look at on the way. But planes are my favorite. You hop in and in a matter of hours, you’re in a totally new place! I don’t know by I’m still so surprised by that. (By the way, I’m still waiting for today’s technology to catch up with Star Trek and beam me up without charging extra for my luggage. Also, the TARDIS would be acceptable.)

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I have always had the dream of standing on a spot-lit stage in a long sequined gown and wowing the crowd with my stunning vocals. But since I’ve never taken vocal lessons, that’s not happening. Sadness. (Also, belting out mad tunes in Spanx doesn’t sound like fun either. I guess I’ll stick to writing. *sigh*

What makes you angry?

I get extra cranky when people are just plain dumb. I grew up with five brothers and I work with kindergarteners, so I have a fairly high tolerance for nonsense. But sometimes people take it to the next level. (Or possibly I just need a snack. #hangry

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I adore chocolate (in practically any of its forms) and romantic comedies (in literature and movies). Both together? Yes, please!

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

I really do love laughing and I appreciate anyone that can crack me up. Most recently that was my four-year-old blonde angel of a niece who repeatedly threatened my life with a play light sabre. Kids and laughter are two things that make me supremely happy.

Amazon (Becoming Beauty)